First of all, I meant to have this post out while we were still in Pride month, but um, 2020 is really getting to me, y’all, so I’m so sorry for the delay. But it’s never a bad time to read books with non-hetero characters. So, I was fortunate enough to receive e-arcs of three historical romances with queer characters that I want to talk about today. First up, we have Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian, which I read in my kindle preorder copy and finished up on audio from Scrib’d. That said, shout out to Netgalley for access to the book early. Oops. And then we’ll talk about Her Lady’s Honor by Renée Dahlia, a sapphic romance set in the aftermath of World War I out from Carina. (Thanks Netgalley for this one too!) Finally, we’ll talk about The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite, another sapphic romance that comes out this month! I’m actually early for one of these. Anyway, let’s hop to it!
Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian
I cannot believe this was my first full length Cat Sebastian book and I’m kicking myself for not reading one of the seven books of hers I already owned at literally any point in the past. This book was really, really lovely. Like, you know how 2020 is really awful? This book is the antithesis of that. It’s so soft and sweet and mutual pining takes center stage. It’s an absolutely lovely friends to lovers that occasionally veers into melodramatic tortured artist style pining, but it’s beautiful. It made me want to take a trip into the country and turn off my phone and just exist with my best friend. I really adored what this book had to say about friendship and how we will do so much for our friends. I feel like I’m not telling you much about what this book is about though, so let me back up.
Will Sedgwick and Sir Martin have been friends since they were young. At the beginning of the book, Martin is very ill and Will has essentially kidnapped him to this cottage and is nursing him back to health. Will is also still dealing with the fact that he suffered this really traumatic incident in his military career and is always fighting his addiction to opium. There are content warnings for discussions of sexual abuse, child neglect/abuse, addiction, and some internal thoughts of deviance that are sort of but not exactly related to being gay. Representation wise, Will is bisexual (maybe pansexual, label is not explicitly on the page) and Martin is gay. And now, I shall leave you with this gorgeous quote:
“. . . It is—” he swallowed “—intolerable to me that you thought I didn’t care.”
Her Lady’s Honor by Renée Dahlia
I desperately wanted to like this book and actually started it first of all three of these books, but I just kept not wanting to actually read it and the more I forced myself, the more I didn’t like it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, which I could have looked past if I’d liked the characters more, but honestly, I didn’t. Hopefully, if it sounds interesting to you, you will have better luck!
This is a Sapphic romance between two women who are both lesbians (I think) and takes place in the aftermath of World War I when Lady Eleanor returns Captain Hughes’ horse to his home. Nell served as a veterinarian’s assistant during the war and is definitely dealing with the emotional and physical scars that experience has left. Beatrice Hughes is the Captain’s daughter and she suffered in a different way during the war and is again suffering from dealing with the Captain’s mood swings, verbal and physical abuse. The two are immediately physically attracted to one another. Beatrice’s mom goes missing and they try and solve that mystery while falling in love along the way.
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
I adored The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics earlier this year so I was so excited to read this follow up. Unfortunately, although I was absolutely entranced by the beginning, I felt like it really dragged in the middle half, and finally picked up again around the 75% mark. Unfortunately, picked up in the last chunk meant, for me, getting completely outraged by sedition and libel law and becoming more grateful than probably ever before for the First Amendment in the United States. That said, this book is slow and beautiful and if you’re in the mood for slow and beautiful, I would definitely recommend.
This follows Agatha Griffin, a widow, and Penelope Flood, a married beekeeper. Agatha finds in the Melliton office of her print shop a swarm of bees and freaks out and Penelope is sent to fix things. The two slowly develop a really great friendship centered around bees, which even more slowly develops into a romantic relationship. In the background, there’s a lot going on with Queen Catherine and King George and sedition and libel laws. From a historical perspective, it’s really interesting, but I kind of wish that the focus had been kept tighter to the relationship between Penelope and Agatha. I say all that, but am also forced to acknowledge that I really liked the secondary characters in this book and felt like they were real people too. So I do recommend this one, but I just want to make sure people are prepared for this one to move very slowly.
Have you read any of these? Are you interested in any of them? Let me know!